THIS TOOK PLACE AT THE SECOND HEARING ON MARIJUANA POLICY
We had a good showing for addiction and substance abuse prevention at the West Springfield public hearing on Marijuana Policy this past Monday (March 27). Here are brief notes on a few of the statements that were made:
— Greenfield physician, Dr. Ruth Potee said the minimum age to legally purchase marijuana should be 25, the age at which the brain is done developing. She called for the committee to limit the psychoactive chemical THC in retail marijuana to 15 percent at most. Some marijuana edibles and concentrates are 90 percent THC. (To learn more about Dr. Potee’s important work, click here >> )
— A business leader presented the math: the optimistically projected $100m state revenues from marijuana taxes, at .002 percent of the $40 billion state budget, is less than one day’s operating budget for our state government. Associated costs for a new marijuana regulation bureaucracy plus compliance and enforcement costs will dwarf the proceeds for the people and taxpayers of the Commonwealth.
— Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni offered thoughtful input about law enforcement resource requirements.
— Attorney John Scheft of Law Enforcement Dimensions addressed negligent provisions in the law by offering specific legal language recommendations that would make the existing marijuana law at least consistent with alcohol law in regard to access and penalties for breaking the law. As currently written, the marijuana law is more lax than alcohol law in the Commonwealth.
— West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt said a majority of his town’s voters opposed the ballot initiative, called Question 4, and there is concern that the Town Council cannot stop retail pot shops from opening. The law requires a ballot initiative in each town that wants to opt out. Mayor Reichelt made the point that no other zoning is mandated to go on a town’s ballot to opt out; that is a decision made by local governing boards.
— There was strong cannabis industry representation advocating for the broadest possible access to building and growing marijuana production, sales and customer-base.
— Holyoke City Mayor Alex Morse expressed enthusiastic support for a 200,000 square foot marijuana grow space planned for a vacant Holyoke factory space.
— One “expert” freelance journalist cited a study on Jamaican babies born to heavy Cannabis using mothers saying the children were brighter and better socialized. “Stoner babies”, he called them. (NOTE: Pediatricians are needed to get accurate pediatric health and toxicology information to these lawmakers.)
— Another woman testified that use rates should not be raised to age 25 because she is actively recruiting young women into her Amherst area practice of psychedelic feminism, promoting expanded conscious through hallucinogenic drugs. She criticized the committee for not having diversity, particularly in their views of cannabis use. Legislative committee members, specifically Rep. Rogers speaking for others on the committee as well, expressed an openness to her views on marijuana use.
Thank you to all those who have submitted testimony and have carved out time to participate in this hearing process. Our prevention network of cooperation and emerging partners must continue to unite and bring strong voice from all sectors and stakeholders to help this legislative committee shape a marijuana law that protects public health and safety. We must continue vigilant presence and testimony to protect our children, families and communities from substance abuse and addiction – and all the costly corresponding problems that emerge from building state economy off drug use.
Please offer specific recommendations for improvements to the Massachusetts Marijuana Act of 2016.
1) ATTEND THE REMAINING PUBLIC HEARINGS AND SUBMIT TESTIMONY
Final two hearing dates, times and locations:
APRIL 3RD, 11 AM, STATE HOUSE, RMS. A-1, A-2: At this hearing a list of bills will be considered. Your position statement on specific bills would be most helpful. The Committee needs comments on these bills: offer context, amendments, support, support with changes, or oppose. You do not need to present detailed analysis of any of the bills. For example, it is perfectly fine to say something like “I support H3183 and S1073 because we need to better understand the impact of high potency marijuana products” etc.
To view the hearing agenda and list of bills, click here >>
APRIL 10th, 4 PM, SHREWSBURY HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM
- To download a template letter with suggested changes to help get you started with testimony, click here >>
- For a simple document on best practices for state marijuana policy, click here >>
- For an excellent public health analysis of marijuana policy that was released in February 2016, click here >>
Committee Email Addresses to submit written testimony
Patricia.Jehlen@masenate.gov (Chair Representing the Senate)
Mark.Cusack@mahouse.gov (Chair Representing the House)
2) MEET WITH SENATOR JEHLEN AND REPRESENTATIVE CUSACK
It is critical that the Chairs of the Committee understand the data-driven, research-based facts, and why it is important to mitigate the harms and consequences with specific policy measures (see links above for suggestions). Visits from the following sectors are particularly important:
- Health: Hospitals, Doctors, Pediatricians, Nurses, Hospital Administrators
- Mental Health: Behavior and Cognitive Health Advocates
- Business: Business owners, Chambers of Commerce, Business Groups
- Municipal and Civic Organizations
- Education: Administrators and Teachers
- Medical and Health-related Associations/Societies
- Public Health: Prevention, Recovery and Treatment Professionals
- Child and Family Welfare & Protection: Parents, Agencies & Associations
- Community and Youth Serving Agencies
- Public Safety and Law Enforcement
- Parents and Youth
LEARN HOW TO OPT OUT OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA
On Wednesday, April 12th 5:30-9pm at 17 Willow Street, Westborough, MA Westborough Concerned Citizens will be holding a workshop on the OPT OUT process. All Massachusetts citizens – official and volunteers – are welcome and encouraged to attend. Seating is limited. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line: “Reserve Seating for 4/12 Workshop.” Please include your name, names of guests and your community.
IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK:
We are pleased to report The Town of Medfield successfully voted to opt-out of recreational marijuana this past week. To learn more, click here >>
Growing number of towns ban pot sales – Boston Herald | Click here >>
Head spinning marijuana questions – Cape Cod Times | Click here >>
Chelmsford Police: Bus driver set to take kids on field trip was high on marijuana – Fox 25 Boston | Click here >>
State marijuana committee hears testimony from mayors, citizens in West Springfield – Mass Live | Click here >>
As pot industry ramps up in Mass., get the rules right – The Boston Globe | Click here >>
Thank you for standing with us to protect the health and wellness of all youth in the Commonwealth.
The Team at the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance